60th Seed Baena Wins Match Play Title

By Sports NetworkJuly 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Marisa Baena, ranked 60th in the 64-player field, parred the final hole Sunday to defeat 47th-seeded Meena Lee, 1-up and win the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
 
The win was her first on the LPGA Tour and she pocketed $500,000 for the victory, the richest first-place prize in LPGA Tour history. That's big for someone who had only made $87,258 so far in the 2005 season.
 
Marisa Baena
Marisa Baena knocked off six straight higher seeds en route to the Match Play title.
'It's been a great week,' said Baena. 'I have no words. That's almost what I've made my entire career. I made $30,000 last year and here I made $500,000 in a week.'
 
Baena established a 3-up lead on the back nine, but Lee never relented. At the 15th, Baena missed a 25-footer for birdie, while Lee holed a 12-footer to win the hole and trail 2-down.
 
Lee, who hit first on almost every hole because Baena is longer off the tee, hit her approach to 15 feet at the 16th. Baena was 20 feet short of the hole and came up 2 feet short with her birdie putt. Lee once again holed the tester and now her deficit was only 1-down with two to play.
 
Lee looked to be in trouble at the par-3 17th when she missed the green left. Baena hit a 7-iron 15 feet short of the hole, then watched Lee chip to 8 feet. Baena had a chance to win the title, but her putt never touched the hole. Lee drained the par save to stay 1-down and force the final to reach No. 18.
 
At the 18th, both players found the fairway off the tee and Lee came up 40 feet short with a 7-wood. Baena landed 25 feet over the flag with her second.
 
Lee hit a tentative putt that left her 6 feet for par. Baena needed two putts to win the title and she lagged her birdie try to tap-in range. Lee conceded the match and title to Baena.
 
'It's amazing,' said Baena. 'My husband is here, my dad is here, so it's even more special for me.'
 
Baena came to the tour with a lot of promise. She lost the 1996 U.S. Amateur title to Kelli Kuehne, but had an amazing collegiate career at the University of Arizona. Baena won 10 tournaments, including the 1996 NCAA Individual title.
 
Lee, who was not even in the field last week at the U.S. Women's Open, took her second runner-up finish in this her rookie year. She tied for second at the LPGA Corning Classic.
 
Baena took the lead several times on the front nine, but Lee almost always squared the match.
 
Lee never played in a single match-play event before this week and it showed at the par-five ninth. She went through the green with her third, then chipped through on the other side with her fourth. Baena was in there close, putting for birdie, but Lee conceded instead of taking a shot with her chip and maybe holing out for par. If Baena missed the birdie putt, and Lee made her long chip, the hole would have been halved, but Lee conceded to fall 2-down.
 
Lee answered with a 10-footer for birdie at the 10th to cut the margin in half.
 
Baena built a 2-up lead at the 11th when she rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt and Lee failed to capitalize from 4 feet. Baena gave one back thanks to a poor tee shot in the bunker at 12, but she reclaimed a 2-up edge at 13. She rolled in a 7-footer for birdie at the par-4 hole.
 
Baena reached the green in two at the par-5 14th. She had 35 feet for eagle and Lee had almost the same distance for birdie. Baena lagged her birdie try close to the hole, but once Lee missed her birdie putt, she perhaps conceded early as Baena had almost 2 feet left. Baena went 3-up until Lee's dramatic comeback attempt.
 
Baena ousted Natalie Gulbis (No. 5), Grace Park (No. 37), Jennifer Rosales (No. 21) and Karrie Webb (No. 29) en route to the semifinals, where she beat Candie Kung (No. 8), 2-up.
 
Lee defeated Hee-Won Han (No. 18), Kim Saiki (No. 50), Liselotte Neumann (No. 31) and Pat Hurst (No. 39), and Wendy Ward (No. 14) to make the final match.
 
In the consolation match, Ward overcame a 3-down deficit to defeat Kung, 2 and 1. Ward ran in a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at 15 and 17 to close the door on Kung, who bested No. 1 seed Annika Sorenstam in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - HSBC Womens World Match Championship

  • Full Coverage - HSBC Womens World Match Championship
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    Woods on firing shot into crowd: 'I kept moving them back'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:14 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It added up to another even-par round, but Tiger Woods had an eventful Friday at The Open.

    His adventure started on the second hole, when he wiped a drive into the right rough. Standing awkwardly on the side of a mound, he prepared for a quick hook but instead fired one into the crowd that was hovering near the rope line.

    “I kept moving them back,” he said. “I moved them back about 40 yards. I was trying to play for the grass to wrap the shaft around there and hit it left, and I was just trying to hold the face open as much as I possibly could. It grabbed the shaft and smothered it.

    “I was very, very fortunate that I got far enough down there where I had a full wedge into the green.”

    Woods bogeyed the hole, one of four on the day, and carded four birdies in his round of 71 at Carnoustie. When he walked off the course, he was in a tie for 30th, six shots off the clubhouse lead.

    It’s the first time in five years – since the 2013 Open – that Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds of par or better. He went on to tie for sixth that year at Muirfield.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.